Michigan’s County Gun Boards – a Thing of the Past

Governor Snyder approved two laws this week, now known as Public Acts 3 and 4 of 2015. These acts will phase out county gun boards statewide by the end of 2015 basically making Michigan a ‘shall issue’ state. Applicants no longer will have to cut through the tape and time of going before a gun board for a question and answer session assessing an applicant’s fitness. Getting a concealed pistol license or permit now is an application process at county clerks’ offices with background checks to verify eligibility being done by the Michigan State Police.

Legislation on this matter has been rejected before as there were concerns about giving carte blanche to carry concealed weapons to known convicted criminals and those who have domestic violence charges. Further, there were issues on limitations of who would be allowed to carry concealed in carry-free zones (including churches and schools). These concerns were addressed by the legislature and the new laws will take effect on December 1, 2015.

Getting rid of regulative / administrative groups is sometimes a good thing as they tend to slow things down and muddy the waters as far as timelines go. This has been one of the biggest criticisms of these laws when they were still pending as tabled legislation over the last several months. Those opposing these laws were worried that local officials (board members) were in the best position of judgment when deciding which applicants were fit to responsibly carry a concealed firearm – after all, background checks while efficient, may not ‘catch’ everything, notably in cases involving self-reporting of mental health concerns. Critics have voiced their disapproval of these measures by noting that it takes away from the accuracy of conducting the most thorough fitness check. But, having 83 county boards with the power to decide who is or is not fit and denying applicants permits based what may be arbitrary decisions is a big step in the other direction. So by rerouting this action through the state police, it should create some consistency to this practice instead of varying results by local county officials who according to congressional opposition were only denying a small portion of applicants anyway.

There is certainly a balancing test in affording people the right to carry should they choose with the ever-present duty of protecting and preserving the peace – carrying loaded guns into public places can be an extremely high-risk proposition, but this shows faith and trust in allowing citizens an opportunity to carry without having to pass muster first. It won’t take long before the practical value of this legislation is realized and gun boards just fade away.

There is some relief here in that the process of getting a concealed permit is now more efficient. You can fill out a first-time application for $100.00 – the State Police will conduct background checks and if you qualify, the county clerk will furnish your permit within 45 days. To renew an application, the cost will increase to $115.00.